How To Use The “54321 Method” for Anxiety

A common request from our members at Manifest House is for more resources and advice on how to reduce or treat everyday stress and anxiety. While there are many different techniques and practices to try, Andrea Mazzilli from the Manifest House team breaks down the one that has been most helpful for her: the 5-4-3-2-1 method.

As an anxious flyer, I first heard of the 5-4-3-2-1 method to calm anxiety in a book called “SOAR: The Breakthrough Treatment for Fear of Flying”. Personally, I do this exercise when I am experiencing small to medium amounts of anxiety, as I find it works best for these moments. When I start to feel the anxiety creeping in is when I incorporate the practice, and I’ve found that it helps me feel more grounded and relaxed.


If you struggle with low to medium levels of anxiety, and/or can feel when anxiety is creeping into your mind, this method could just be the grounding technique you’re looking for!


Step 1: See

The exercise consists of finding a focal point in front of you. Once you’ve done this, name 5 things you see around you while keeping your focus point. It requires you to become aware of your peripheral vision.


Step 2: Hear

Next, name 5 things you can hear, perhaps the leaves blowing through the air, the fan, anything big or small.


Step 3: Feel

Finally, name 5 things you can *physically* feel, like the chair you may be sitting on, wind or air conditioner on your face, anything! This completes the first cycle of the 5-4-3-2-1 Method.


The next cycle requires you to notice 4 things you can see, hear and feel, followed by the next cycle which requires 3 things and so on. According to “SOAR: The Breakthrough Treatment for Fear of Flying”, forgetting where you are in the cycle may be a good sign the exercise is helping you relax.


Most of the time, I only go through cycle 3, noticing three things I can see, hear and feel. I especially like to notice things in my peripheral vision as it helps ground me and become more present. Remember, it is perfectly okay to mold certain techniques to our unique needs, which is why I only name three things I can see, hear and feel most of the time. You can even change the order to feel, see and hear, but I would recommend whatever order you try to keep it consistent within the cycles.


I encourage you to try this method in moments you can feel anxiety creeping its ugly head in in whatever way works for you! We owe it to ourselves to take a small pause to reset and feel our best!


If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or having suicidal thoughts please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit their Online Live Chat.

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